For many years, consumers in the US had only a few choices when it came to mobile cellular service providers. Then, in the first decade of 2000, that changed.
That’s when the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) opened for business, which kicked off an era of unprecedented consumer cellular service choice in the US.
For clarity, an MVNO is a cellular carrier that offers service under its own brand name but doesn’t own any cellular network infrastructure.
Instead, they forge leased access deals with the major infrastructure carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon) and resell access to their networks.
At the time of this writing, an astounding 139 MVNOs were operating within the US, offering cellular service to an estimated 23 million Americans.
Of all of the MVNOs out there, however, few have the market cachet and instant name recognition of Xfinity Mobile.
They’re an MVNO operated by Comcast, Inc, the US’s largest cable television provider.
Plus, the service itself operates on Verizon’s cellular network, offering coast-to-coast coverage on a network that’s widely regarded as one of the best in the country.
Here’s everything you need to know about Xfinity Mobile, including information on its major service plans and the major advantages and disadvantages of the service itself. Let’s get started!
Xfinity Mobile’s Main Service Plans
Like most cellular service providers and MVNOs, Xfinity Mobile offers multiple service plans to suit the needs of customers.
They’re split into two main types, both of which come with unlimited voice calls and text messaging.
“By the Gig” Plans
First are plans that come with data by the gigabyte. These plans offer low price points for fixed amounts of data usage each month.
At the time of this writing, Xfinity Mobile offered three such plans, at 1, 3, and 10 gigabytes, respectively. On those plans, any overages cost users $15 per additional gigabyte each month.
Then come the unlimited data plans. As their name suggests, they offer unlimited data throughput each month, with a catch.
The catch is that each plan comes with a maximum limit on full-speed data transmission, as well as on video quality when streaming.
When you exceed the full-speed data caps, there’s no extra charge, and you can continue using the service at reduced speeds. The unlimited plans and data caps are as follows:
- Unlimited Intro – 20 GB high-speed data and 480p video streaming
- Unlimited Plus – 30 GB premium data and 720p video streaming
- Unlimited Premium – 50 GB premium data and 720p video streaming
The Main Advantages of Xfinity Mobile
In the crowded MVNO marketplace, Xfinity Mobile stands out from the pack in a variety of ways. Its many advantages helped it reach the 5-million customer mark in just five years of operation. Those advantages include the following.
1) Relies on Verizon’s Mobile Network
For many years, Verizon owned the title of best overall mobile network in the US, according to most experts.
It features a hard-to-beat mixture of rock-solid reliability, excellent coverage nationwide, and high-speed data throughput in most parts of the country.
And since Xfinity Mobile relies on Verizon’s network as its underlying infrastructure, it inherits those traits, as well.
However, rival providers T-Mobile and AT&T have leapfrogged Verizon in the past year, as all three carriers race to build out their 5G cellular infrastructure.
That said, though, Verizon is still the largest wireless carrier in the US, with the financial resources to match.
So, it’s all but certain to climb back atop the rankings in short order as its infrastructure upgrades complete.
2) By-The-Gig Plans Don’t Deprioritize Data
One of the common problems suffered by users of MVNOs is that their traffic will always take a backseat to that of the subscribers of the network’s owner.
So, in crowded places or times of peak data usage, throughput on MVNO-served devices can slow to a crawl.
It’s a practice known as de-prioritization, and it’s one of the secrets behind how MVNOs can offer cheaper service than the providers that own the networks.
On Xfinity Mobile’s by-the-gig plans, though, there is no de-prioritization.
This is because Xfinity Mobile has agreements with Verizon to prevent it from happening on their a-la-carte data plans, making them more attractive to consumers.
This does, of course, make the by-the-gig plans more expensive on an apples-to-apples basis compared to the unlimited plans.
But in exchange, by-the-gig users never have to worry about getting the short end of the service stick when they’re in crowded or heavily-populated areas.
3) Xfinity Mobile Offers BYOD
Another major advantage offered by Xfinity Mobile is that they allow you to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to use with the service.
This makes switching from another provider easier and cheaper since you won’t necessarily need to purchase a new phone to do it.
And since Xfinity Mobile operates on Verizon’s network, nearly all of the phones that work with Verizon will also work with Xfinity Mobile.
You can even look up your phone’s make and model in Xfinity Mobile’s compatibility database to see if your device will work before making the switch.
4) Xfinity Mobile Also Offers New Phones
It’s also an advantage that new and existing Xfinity Mobile subscribers can purchase new phones to use with the service, too.
Better still, Xfinity Mobile offers monthly installment payment plans to help subscribers afford the devices they want.
They carry some popular brands and models of phones (Apple, Google, Motorola, Samsung etc), as well as a variety of older phones for those who don’t want or need a high-end device.
That means there’s a monthly payment plan to suit any budget, including some phones that become effectively free with the activation of a new line.
5) Access To Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspots
Perhaps the greatest advantage of Xfinity Mobile is that users get free access to Xfinity’s vast network of free Wi-Fi hotspots.
As the nation’s largest cable internet provider, Xfinity activates a hotspot by default on every residential Xfinity Wireless Gateway they install.
That practice helped them build a Wi-Fi hotspot network with an estimated 22 million nodes all over the country. There’s even an interactive map that helps users locate hotspots when they need one.
By leveraging access to those hotspots, Xfinity Mobile gives customers the ability to save on monthly data.
And since the majority of the hotspots are in heavily-populated areas, users can also use them to avoid any issues with de-prioritization in most instances.
With standard speeds of 25 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up on every hotspot, Xfinity Mobile subscribers may even be better off using them, particularly for streaming video at higher resolutions than their plan allows.
6) Nationwide 5G Mobile Service
Last but not least, Xfinity Mobile users also enjoy access to coast-to-coast 5G mobile service, courtesy of Verizon’s ever-expanding 5G network.
That’s not all, though. Verizon’s network also offers another hidden advantage when it comes to its 5G service.
The advantage is that, at the time of this writing, about 50% of all of Verizon’s cell sites in the US now get their connectivity from Verizon-owned fiber optic backhaul cables.
This means Verizon’s cellular network has bandwidth to spare, making network congestion or slowdowns far less frequent on its network.
And although rivals like T-Mobile boast that their cell sites enjoy as much as 95% fiber connectivity, that comes with a big caveat.
It’s that T-Mobile doesn’t own much of that fiber, instead opting to lease access from existing fiber owners.
That limits its access to the full bandwidth of those cables and could lead to bottlenecks soon. Verizon’s users, and therefore Xfinity Mobile’s, however, don’t have to worry about that happening.
The Main Disadvantages of Xfinity Mobile
While it’s true that Xfinity Mobile has quite a bit going for it, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are some disadvantages to the service that potential users should know about. Here’s what they are.
1) Signups Limited to Xfinity Internet Customers
The biggest disadvantage of Xfinity Mobile is that you can only sign up for it if you’re an existing Xfinity Internet subscriber.
While that’s somewhat limiting, it’s worth noting that Xfinity offers home internet service in 41 states, covering the vast majority of the US’s major population centers.
That means a wide swath of potential users can access the service if they wish to also subscribe to one of Xfinity’s home internet plans.
2) Extra Cost if You Ever Cancel Internet Service
It’s worth pointing out, though, that it is possible to keep your Xfinity Mobile account if you subsequently cancel your Xfinity home internet service.
Therein, however, lies another major disadvantage of the Xfinity Mobile service. The issue is that canceling your home internet service will add a $25 surcharge to your monthly mobile bill.
Plus, you’ll lose access to the network of Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, making the service itself far less flexible and attractive.
3) Unlimited Data Plans Aren’t Truly Unlimited
Another disadvantage of Xfinity Mobile is that its unlimited plans aren’t truly unlimited.
As we detailed earlier, they’re subject to throttling after a certain amount of data usage every month.
So, although you can theoretically use as much data as you wish, you may find that your speed drops off significantly when you exceed your plan’s baseline limitations.
For heavy users, this may make Xfinity Mobile a poor option relative to the truly unlimited plans offered—for far more money—by the likes of T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon.
4) Not All Unlimited Plans Have Prioritized Data
The final big disadvantage of Xfinity Mobile is that one of its plans—Unlimited Intro— doesn’t feature prioritized data.
As we covered earlier, all of Xfinity Mobile’s by-the-gig plans aren’t subject to de-prioritization on Verizon’s network.
However, the Unlimited Plus and Premium plans also share that trait. That means they, too, won’t see users running into data transmission issues in busy or populous areas.
Users with the Unlimited Intro plan, though, have no such guarantee.
The Xfinity Mobile Bottom Line
At the end of the day, Xfinity Mobile has quite a bit to offer to potential customers.
That’s part of why the service kept adding as many as a million new customers each year since its launch.
However, its limitations—namely, having to be an existing Xfinity home internet subscriber to qualify and its semi-hidden throttling policies—mean potential users should do their homework first before signing up.
Of course, Xfinity Mobile may someday open up access to non-Xfinity home internet customers at some point, but until they do, the service will remain a decent deal for those that have it and tantalizingly out of reach for those who can’t sign up.